POLISES (short for ‘Policy Instruments and Social-Environmental Systems under Global Change’) is a working group at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig, Department of Ecological Modelling

The group was catalysed by the funding for Junior Research Groups “Global Change 4+1” of the BMBF from 2014-2019. We use dynamic socio-environmental modelling, in particular agent-based modelling with a focus on representing human decision-making. We have a strong interest in making models more useful to support policy and management. 

We also have a project homepage at the UFZ.


  • Make aware of unintended side effects of policy instruments and proposed (risk) management strategies.
  • Advance modelling methods with focus on representation of human decision-making and upscaling of socio-environmental models.
  • Increase real-world impact of socio-environmental modelling for management and policy support related to sustainable land use.
  • Foster transdisciplinary research through a close exchange with empirical experts in ecology, socioeconomics and geography.


BESTMAP aims to develop a new flexible, interoperable and customizable framework that will take account of farmers' needs and effectively monitor policy impacts on natural, social and cultural assets in rural areas.



The NamTip project strives for a better understanding of desertification tipping points and their ecological and social drivers with a focus on the Greater Waterberg Landscape in Namibia.


Finished project POLISES

We explored the impacts of selected global food security policies on the resilience of smallholding farmers in Africa; we aimed to identify crucial aspects for an appropriate design of these policy instruments; and we wanted to promote knowledge transfer and social learning.


Finished Project SEEMI

Insurance products specially designed for the needs of low-income people in developing countries, so-called microinsurance products, are seen as a promising tool for economic development.
Within the SEEMI research project, we contributed to a much-needed enhanced understanding of the effects of microinsurance on social-ecological systems. We focused in particular on the impact on informal safety nets.